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BASRA — British and U.S. troops have been visiting a college in Basra to explore the possibility of reconstructing a facility that could in time lead to the the introduction of newly funded training courses for local Baswaris. The Abu Al Kaseeb college is currently undergoing significant renovation and will have new training equipment installed to give pupils access to a wide range of key tools and machinery. The direct investment for this reconstruction is part of the Multi-National Forces' initiative which is intended to stimulate Vocational Technical Training.
The programme will result in thousands of young people from across Basra being trained in crucial trades such as construction, carpentry, electricity and plumbing.
Coalition funding from the Commanders' Emergency Response Program will provide modern training courses, with the first round of courses due to begin in the next two months. It is estimated that around 600-800 people will be trained in the Abu Al Kaseeb and Al Zubayr colleges every year.
Trainees will receive financial support for attending the course and will be helped to find employment in Basra. The course will range in length from several weeks to a year. There may also be student exchange opportunities with colleges in the UK and grants to buy tools once the course has been completed.
The aim of the scheme is to increase the number of skilled workers in the city which in turn will support economic development and reconstruction. This will help to alleviate problems of unemployment and the lack of skilled workers. It is estimated that around 50 percent of young men in Basra are currently unemployed.
“In addition to helping the Iraqi authorities bring safety and security to Basra, the Coalition Forces wants to ensure it supports the economic redevelopment of the Province. This programme will ensure there are modernised colleges with practical courses for young Baswaris,” said Captain Finn Aldrich, British Army spokesman. “These courses will not only train people in key trades and give them hope of finding employment but will help underpin the wider growth of the local economy.”